Vatican Opposed Turkey EU Bid
Joe Ratzinger, the future pope, lobbied hard against Turkey's membership in the EU.
One of the actually interesting revelations from the most recent WikiLeaks dump:
The pope is responsible for the Vatican’s growing hostility towards Turkey joining the EU, previously secret cables sent from the US embassy to the Holy See in Rome claim.
In 2004 Cardinal Ratzinger, the future pope, spoke out against letting a Muslim state join, although at the time the Vatican was formally neutral on the question.
The Vatican’s acting foreign minister, Monsignor Pietro Parolin, responded by telling US diplomats that Ratzinger’s comments were his own rather than the official Vatican position.
The cable released by WikiLeaks shows that Ratzinger was the leading voice behind the Holy See’s unsuccessful drive to secure a reference to Europe’s “Christian roots” in the EU constitution. The US diplomat noted that Ratzinger “clearly understands that allowing a Muslim country into the EU would further weaken his case for Europe’s Christian foundations”.
But by 2006 Parolin was working for Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, and his tone had distinctly chilled. “Neither the pope nor the Vatican have endorsed Turkey’s EU membership per se,” he told the American charge d’affaires, “rather, the Holy See has been consistently open to accession, emphasising only that Turkey needs to fulfil the EU’s Copenhagen criteria to take its place in Europe.”
But he did not expect the demands on religious freedom to be fulfilled: “One great fear is that Turkey could enter the EU without having made the necessary advances in religious freedom. [Parolin] insisted that EU members – and the US – continue to press the [Turkish government] on these issues … He said that short of ‘open persecution’, it couldn’t get much worse for the Christian community in Turkey.”
While one can understand the pope’s resistance to giving a Muslim state more power in Europe, it’s not clear why the Vatican should have any say on the matter; it isn’t a member of the EU. Then again, neither is the United States and we’ve been lobbying hard to get our NATO ally admitted to the Union. Thus far, the Vatican’s view is winning, albeit largely for other reasons.